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NASA Releases New Photos of Apollo Moon Landing Site

  • apollo17-moon-landing-site-lro-image.jpg

    The twists and turns of the last tracks left by humans on the moon crisscross the surface in this LRO image of the Apollo 17 site. In the thin lunar soil, the trails made by astronauts on foot can be easily distinguished from the dual tracks left by the lunar roving vehicle, or LRV. Also seen in this image are the descent stage of the Challenger lunar module and the LRV, parked to the east.NASA/Goddard/ASU

  • Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11

    Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin stands on the lunar surface during the first moon landing in 1969.Apollo 11/NASA

New photos of the Apollo moon landing sites were released today (Sept. 6), showing extraordinary new details about the areas on the lunar surface visited by humans, including tracks left by the astronauts and their lunar rovers.  

In one image of the Apollo 17 landing site, the last tracks left by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt on the moon are visible. The crisscrossing footprints can be easily distinguished from the tracks left by the astronauts' lunar rover. [See the new photos of the Apollo moon landing sites]

The images were taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a robotic probe in orbit around the moon. The new views also mark only the second time that high-resolution pictures of the landing sites have been snapped by an unmanned spacecraft around the moon.

The new batch of images released today represent three different lunar landing sites: Apollo 12, Apollo 14 and Apollo 17. Scientists and historians alike are hoping they will help solve some unanswered questions from the Apollo missions, such as whether the planted American flags are still standing.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been in orbit around the moon since June 2009. The $504 million car-sized spacecraft first captured close-up images of the Apollo landing sites in July 2009, which revealed new details about the sites and even spotted hardware that was left behind on the lunar surface.

The LRO probe is currently on an extended mission through at least September 2012.

Latest Moon Photos from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Apollo Landing Sites Spotted in Sharp New Detail

Lunar Legacy: 45 Apollo Moon Mission Photos

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